Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Faith Culture Devotional (review)

My next book Zondervan gave me the opportunity to pre-screen is A Faith and Culture Devotional. BY Kelly Kullberg and Lael Arrington. It came out Dec. 1.

It is a compilation of very brief devotional readings focused on the following topics: Theology, History, Philosophy, Science, Literature, Arts and Contemporary Culture. One article on each topic for 15 weeks worth of reading. This makes the book quite large for a devotional (considering many are 30-60 days as opposed to over 100). I appreciated the length and organization of the devotional as much as any aspect. This was very well done.

The articles are composed almost exclusively by experts in any given field. There is the occaional pastor/grad student article, but they are few and far between. The reader can be assured that they are reading scholarly accurate presentations. Another plus.

How were the devotionals? Short. Very short, two pages max. Another plus. Out of roughly 100 devotionals, I would say about 10 were phenomenal, life changing perspectives. 20 were quite good. 50 were mediochre. and the last 20 were basically terrible. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these devotions were simply not unique. I came to the book expecting it to be like nothing I've ever read. In fact, it was basically a right-wing conservative evangelical diatribe on how the heavens declare the glory of God, and the arts demonstrate humankind's falleness.

Who is it for? College students and those who have never heard about how faith and culture interact, or who have never read some of the ancient voices in the church. It is very good for a basic overview of faith and culture. It is not good for a fresh, unique, perspective.

The good: Short devotionals, some excellent ones, very cool demonstrations of how great God is, a variety of authors (though kullberg seems to show up an awful lot). Excellent introduction. Awesome questions for reflection at the end of each chapter (best part of the book imo). Good structure.

The bad: not unique, attempts to show how faith and culture interact, but only gives a conservative perspective. Often times the devotionals are just attacks against liberal perspectives on evolution, philosophy, or theology. Not necessarily christo-centric.

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